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Childhood Autism: Comparison Between Impressions of Parents and Educators

Thursday, 2 May 2013: 14:00-18:00
Banquet Hall (Kursaal Centre)
D. Satterfield1, S. Kang1, C. Lepage2, H. Deering1 and N. Ladjahasan3, (1)Graphic Design, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, (2)Pediatric Neurology, Sutter Neuroscience Institute, Sacramento, CA, (3)IDRO, Iowa State University, Ames, IA
Background:  The literature indicates that children with ASD experience significant differences in communication, socialization, and behavior as compared to typically developing peers. There is also evidence to suggest that intervention strategies can help children with ASD improve skills in these critical areas. However, the perceived importance of specific skills in these areas may differ between parents and educators.

In an effort to clarify and address these discrepancies, a series of 5-focus groups were conducted to identify the main deficits in social skills, communication skills, and behavioral skills that negatively impact a child with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) as identified by parents and educators. Parents and educators were also asked to identify the relative importance that they place on social or peer relationships for children with ASD, the situations or contexts that best facilitate socialization, communication, and behavior for children with ASD, and what technologies are most effect to facilitate improved communication, socialization and behavior.

Objectives:  There are three main objectives. 1) Identify the communication skills, social skills and behavioral skills that most negatively impact children with ASD as identified by parents and educators. 2) Identify the importance of social and peer relationships as perceived by parents and educators. 3) Identify what situations and technologies best facilitate socialization in children with ASD as identified by parents and educators.

Methods: Full approval was obtained from the ISU IRB. Consent for participation was obtained from each participant. Parents (n=5) and educators (n=5) who work directly with children with ASD in focus groups were asked to respond to questions from a research tool designed to illicit information regarding communication, socialization, behavior and technology. This data was coded to identify patterns in perspectives between these two groups. From this data a mixed-method survey tool was developed. A second set of parents (n=20) and educators (n=20) were asked to complete this survey. Numerical and qualitative data was formulated and reviewed based on the response patterns.

Results:  Demographic data including number of males and females, age range, ethnic background, survey results, and discussion of response patterns. Preliminary results from the pilot n=5 groups of parents and educators suggests meaningful discrepancies of their impressions of children with autism.

Conclusions:  Patterns in response data between parents and educators in the n=20 groups will be discussed with regard to communication, socialization and behavior skills as well as the perceived negative impacts.  Additional discussion includes perceptions of the most effective situations and technologies with respect to improving communication, socialization and behavior skills.  Future research will focus on developing those methods of technology, educating treatment teams, and incorporating greater number of high-quality opportunities into daily activity. Level of impairment will be considered as well.

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